Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Gang's members migrate to hide: police

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SOME of the 40-plus members of a Winnipeg street gang are travelling between cities in Western Canada to evade police, says a report by the Winnipeg Police Service organized crime unit.

The report by Det. Ryan Howanyk estimates there are currently 40 to 50 members of the African Mafia street gang.

Police in Alberta have arrested members of the gang, who mostly live in Winnipeg's city centre and West End but some members live in areas like Fort Garry and Charleswood.

"Recently, a number of African Mafia members and associates have been travelling to and from areas in Alberta," says the report. "Some members are travelling back and forth to further their criminal enterprises and to avoid detection from law enforcement."

The gang was founded only six years ago but has already become "heavily submersed" in the city's drug trade, thanks to crack shacks and dial-a-dealers who peddle product.

It consists mostly of young men in their teens or 20s from African countries like Somalia, Sudan, Ethiopia and Sierra Leone.

The 20-page report was submitted as an exhibit at a sentencing for Thon Guot and Mayen Madit. The two are high-ranking African Mafia gang members who have both been found guilty of trafficking cocaine.

The Free Press reported this August both were accused of using legal tricks to delay their sentencing hearings and draw out their time on Canadian soil.

They will be deported back to Africa once their sentences end.

The African Mafia is not as organized as gangs like the Manitoba Hells Angels, says the report.

"The African Mafia do not have a clubhouse and do not have weekly meetings," the report says.

"They can, however, make decisions as a group on criminal matters such as how the group should retaliate against rival gang members or how to deal with a member or associate when he steals from the gang or provides police with a statement against the gang."

The number of people in the gang varies based on those who are killed, jailed or deported.

"Members and associates of the African Mafia have adopted quickly and have learned through having contact with the police and being involved in the court process how to be more criminally savvy," says the report.

It says police have difficulty dealing with the gang's intimidation of victims and witnesses for fear of reprisal, and a rule among members not to co-operate with officers.

The report also notes that the African Mafia rivals another city street gang, B-Side. The two use different types of graffiti to mark out areas they consider their turf.

gabrielle.giroday@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition January 23, 2010 A8

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